In this edition of Oppo Research, Hudson River Blue spoke with Alex Windley of The Heron Outlet and The Pink Heron Press to learn more about Inter Miami, New York City FC’s opponent tomorrow when they face off at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale: Here is your NYCFC vs Inter Miami preview.
1. Miami not confident about making playoffs
Hudson River Blue: Inter Miami are currently chasing a playoff spot and come into Saturday’s matchup five points off 9th place, and look like they’ll be without Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba. Could the Herons still sneak into a playoff spot behind Josef Martinez and Leo Campana? What are the vibes in Fort Lauderdale these days?
Alex Windley: If you’d asked fans a week ago, they would’ve been more confident, but with Messi’s day-to-day injury, and the poor showing during the US Open Cup, I think climbing the table is going to be significantly more challenging than many people believed.
2. Messimania is real
HRB: How has Messimania transformed the club? Earlier this year, a typical press conference probably consisted of you and a half-dozen other local journalists, but now you have heavyweights from ESPN, The Athletic, England, Spain, Argentina, and every other corner of the football universe making the trip to Fort Lauderdale. What stories do you have to tell?
AW: Honestly, it’s gotten significantly more difficult for local reporters to cover the team.
I know several writers who used to be able to gain credentials suddenly stonewalled because of the increased interest. I’m fortunate enough to be able to still gain access, but while it’s cool having these big media outlets cover the club, all it does is push out the day-one journalists who’ve witnessed the team grow.
3. Newcomer Facundo Farias is one to watch
HRB: Inter Miami’s attack is a dangerous one even without Messi: Campana has nine goals and two assists, while Martinez has six goals. Who else should NYCFC be cautious of on Saturday?
AW: Facundo Farias! He’s the young U22 DP who has a high upside. Can play in multiple positions, and already has three goals and one assist despite playing in just seven MLS games.
4. The X-factor: Tata Martino
HRB: What’s the X-factor that could decide this game?
AW: Tata Martino’s tactics. In the Open final, Tata completely under-prepared the team and left them exposed. I do believe he’ll learn from that and adjust accordingly.
I’ll also add that Miami will be on short rest, and that could give NYCFC the advantage.
5. Predicted Starting XI
HRB: Prediction time: Starting XI? Final score?
AW: I think Miami will look to do something different after that US Open Cup Final loss, so I think Tata will switch it up a bit tactically. That could lead to Miami offensively switching on. But NYCFC have been in good form lately, so I think it’ll be a 2-2 draw, both sides splitting the points.